After the first stage of their FIH Pro League 2022-23 season, the Indian men’s team has taken an early lead in the overall group standings.

The Indians hosted New Zealand and Spain in double headers over the past 10 days at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, and came up with two outright wins, one win via a shootout, and a solitary loss to give them eight points and top the nine-team group on goal-difference.

India scored 15 goals in the four matches and conceded 12. And last season’s top scorer Harmanpreet Singh has already made his mark at this edition, leading the charts with six goals so far.

Here’s a quick recap of how the matches went.

Match 1: India 4-3 New Zealand

Player of the Match: Mandeep Singh (India)

Mandeep Mor started off the game well for India with a goal in the 14th minute. But New Zealand quick equalised through Sam Lane in the 23rd minute.

The Black Sticks then scored their second and third of the night in quick succession, with Jake Smith scoring in the 35th minute and Lane getting a brace a minute later.

Before the third quarter could end though, Harmanpreet Singh - the skipper - reduced the deficit in the 42nd minute.

Mandeep Singh then took charge by netting twice fourth quarter to help India win the first match of the FIH Hockey Pro League season.

Hockey, FIH Pro League, India vs New Zealand, as it happened: Mandeep’s brace helps hosts to 4-3 win


Match 2: India 2-3 Spain

Player of the Match: Jordi Bonastre (Spain)

India suffered a defeat in their home ground as the Spanish team dominated the Men in Blue to win 3-2 at the Kalinga Stadium.

Spain looked stronger from the start of the game with more ball possession and with their forwards scoring two goals in the first half. Although India made a comeback in the dying minutes, Marc Reyne scored the winner in the 57th minute to win it for Spain.

Eduard de Ignacio-Simo opened the scoring in the 17th minute before Marc Miralles doubled the lead in the 27th minute. A few seconds later, Harmanpreet pulled one back, and Abhishek equalised in the 55th minute, only for Reyne’s late goal to hand India the loss.

Hockey, FIH Pro League, India vs Spain as it happened: Harmanpreet Singh and Co lose 2-3


Match 3: India 7-4 New Zealand

Player of the Match: Hardik Singh (IND)

It was a high-scoring game as India beat New Zealand 7-4. The first 18 minutes of the game featured six goals as the forwards of both the teams put in some hard work to enter their opponents’ circle.

Just as it was in the previous match, New Zealand had taken a 3-1 lead.

Simon Child opened the scoring in the second minute, only for Harmanpreet to equalise in the seventh. Sam Lane and Jake Smith then capitalised on some terrible defending from the hosts to end the first quarter 3-1 in favour of the visitors.

India came back from the break a much better team.

Karthi Selvam scored in the 17th minute after excellent work from Manpreet Singh in the midfield, and Harmanpreet scored his second of the night two minutes later to equalise.

India started the second half strongly with Raj Kumar Pal scoring 33 seconds after the restart, Selvam getting a second in the 38th, and Sukhjeet Singh (50th )and Jugraj Singh (53rd) also getting on the scoresheet. Nic Woods found a late consolation in the 54th.

Hockey, FIH Pro League, India vs New Zealand as it happened: Harmanpreet and Co comeback to win 7-4


Match 4: India 2-2 Spain (India win 3-1 in shootout)

Player of the Match: Krishan B Pathak (IND)

India avenged their as they beat Spain 3-1 in shootout, after both teams were locked 2-2 at full time in a high voltage contest.

India started off well with Harmanpreet scoring in the 12th minute, and then doubling the lead in the 32nd.

Miralles pulled one back in the 43rd minute, and Pere Amat found a late equaliser in the 55th minute to take the game into a shootout.

That’s where Kishan Pathak in the Indian goal stood out.

The 25-year-old made three stellar saves in the shootout to help the hosts come up with a 3-1 win and secure the bonus point.

FIH Pro League, India vs Spain as it happened: Pathak stands tall to help hosts win shootout bonus